Monday, July 23, 2007

Props to Ron Paul and Mike Gravel on drug policy

One issue I feel strongly about but haven't blogged about for a while is the futility and stupidity of our nation's drug policy. According to the recent article in the NYT Sunday Magazine,
[Republican candidate Ron Paul] detests the federal war on drugs; the LSD guru Timothy Leary held a fundraiser for him in 1988.
While I disagree with Ron Paul on government spending on social programs and health care (he's against it, I think we need more & better) and numerous other things, I think he deserves mad props for being against the war on drugs. As far as I know, he's the highest profile politician to publicly take this position. Where are the Democratic candidates on this? Back in April, Ariana Huffington lamented their silence:
But a quick search of the top Democratic hopefuls' websites reveals that not one of them -- not Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama, not John Edwards, not Joe Biden, not Chris Dodd, not Bill Richardson -- even mentions the drug war, let alone offers any solutions.

The silence coming from Clinton and Obama is particularly deafening.

I don't know how much has changed since then, but apparently the ice is starting to break a bit. here's Drug WarRant:

But from the brief recaps I've seen around the web, the drug war got some play, with Gravel and Kucinich, of course, but also with Biden, Dodd, Richardson, and Clinton at least, giving some mention to things such as eliminating mandatory minimums and crack/powder disparities, and making needle exchange available to reduce HIV.

At that site you'll also find the usual graphs that make plain how incarceration-happy we are:

Poking around the web, I did find one Democratic candidate who spoke out against the Drug War: Mike Gravel:

“The scourge of our present society, particularly in the African-American community, is the war on drugs,” Gravel said in response to a question about the high rate of HIV/AIDS infections among black teenagers.

Then he said this about the other Democrats on the stage: “If they really want to do something about the inner cities, if they really want to do something about what’s happening to the health of the African-American community, it’s time to end this war. There’s no reason to continue it in the slightest. All it does is create criminals out of people who are not criminals.”

His words drew applause from the mostly black audience, but not even a nod of agreement from the other Democrats on stage with him.

It's pathetic that the only people speaking out on this on the Democratic and Republican sides are Mike Gravel and Ron Paul, respectively. The "fringe" candidates are the only ones who seem willing to state the obvious: our current policy isn't working. This seems to be one area where the Democrats aren't any better than the Republicans. While there can be a lot of disagreement about what we should be doing, I don't think anyone can say our interdiction & criminalization policies have been successful. Can we stop acting all Iraq-ish on this and at least have the courage to look at reality?


Blogger Randy said...

Just a quick note - Ron Paul believes that ending the federal involvement in social programs would allow the states the freedom to design plans that are best suited to their individual needs. You want better, he has a plan for better.

And in any event, he's not running on that platform. He has stated sevaral times that dismantling our entitlement system is very low on the agenda. He is more interested in dismantling the powers that the Executive branch has grabbed. If your candidate isn't talking about doing that, then you need to ask yourself why.

12:45 AM, July 24, 2007  
Blogger Zachary Drake said...

Thanks for stopping by, Randy. I agree that if a candidate isn't speaking out against Bush/Cheney's power grab, you might want to reconsider.

I find it interesting that whenever I mention Ron Paul in a post, a supporter drops by and says something good about him. He's generating a lot of excitement.

12:49 AM, July 24, 2007  
Anonymous Tim said...

I echo Randy's comment. Ron Paul is not a "cold" person that wants to kick people out in the street. He thinks charities and the goodwill of the american people can do a better job of providing services but it doesn't matter: He thinks it should be up to the states. Each state is unique and should be left alone to create the social programs they want. What works for california; might not work well in iowa. With everything on the federal level you end up with a compromised system that costs more money and leaves nobody happy.

It is interesting that some people have tried to label Ron Paul a racist; when one of his policy positions (against the drug war) holds more promise to help minorities than all the "top tier" candidates combined.

And yes he is generating excitement. You should consider dropping in on a local Ron Paul meetup group meeting.
Just drop by to check them out. You will find real Americans that are passionate and good people. Drop in and get a feel for the real level of excitement.

1:32 AM, July 24, 2007  
Blogger Anthony said...

Odd. I notice that the US is actually ahead of Singapore in terms of incarceration rates. I would have thought the reverse.

6:21 AM, July 24, 2007  

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